Spectrum of Neurologic & Neuroimaging manifestation of COVID-19

Link to article at PubMed

Brain Behav Immun Health. 2021 Mar 3:100238. doi: 10.1016/j.bbih.2021.100238. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) initially thought to be confined to the respiratory system only, is now known to be a multisystem disease. It is critical to be aware of and timely recognize neurological and neuroradiological manifestations affecting patients with COVID-19, to minimize morbidity and mortality of affected patients.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective chart review of patients admitted to our Level 1 trauma and stroke center during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York from March 1st to May 30, 2020, with a positive test for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) who presented mainly with neurological findings and had acute radiological brain changes on Computed Tomography (CT) scan. Patients with known chronic neurological disease processes were excluded from the study. We obtained and reviewed demographics, complete blood count, metabolic panel, D-dimer, inflammatory markers such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C reactive protein (CRP), imaging, and patient's hospital course. We reviewed the current literature on neuroimaging, pathophysiology, and their clinical correlations on COVID-19. This case series study was approved by our institutional review board.

RESULT: A total of 16 patients were selected for our case series. The most common neuroimaging features on CT, were territorial to multifocal ischemic infarcts, followed by a combination of ischemia and acute white matter encephalopathic changes, followed by temporal lobe predominant focal or more generalized encephalopathy with both confluent and non-confluent patterns, isolated cortical or more extensive intracranial hemorrhages and some combination of ischemia or hemorrhage and white matter changes. All our patients had severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), most of them had elevated inflammatory markers, and D dimer.

CONCLUSION: COVID-19 infection is a multi-organ disease, which can manifest as rapidly progressive neurological disease beyond the more common pulmonary presentation. Early recognition of various neurological findings and neuroimaging patterns in these patients will enable timely diagnosis and rapid treatment to reduce morbidity and mortality. Our retrospective study is limited due to small non-representative sample size, strict selection criteria likely underestimating the true extent of neurological manifestations of COVID-19, mono-modality imaging technique limited to predominantly CT scans and lack of CSF analysis in all except one patient. Multi-institutional, multi-modality, largescale studies are needed with radio-pathological correlation to better understand the complete spectrum of neurologic presentations in COVID-19 patients and study the causal relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and CNS disease process.

PMID:33681827 | PMC:PMC7925234 | DOI:10.1016/j.bbih.2021.100238

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